Lovecraft Country is a masterpiece of human horror in a monstrous setting. Aside from the wildly imaginative and grotesque beasts born of HP Lovecraft’s mind, the expertise and genius of Jordan Peele and JJ Abrams together is a serious mind F*#k. With Teleplay by Misha Green – Yes Black Women! – writer of Underground and Spartacus it seems like there is no way this could fail.
The Outsider and Others
The impetus of the show is based on the novel Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, all centered on the writing and stories of HP Lovecraft. Of course you think the HP would be featured in some way, maybe a book on a shelf or naturally the writers influences seen in the monsters, but this is a whole-nother level.
HP Lovecraft is a character into himself, with the leads heading to the town in which it is said that Lovecraft based his stories. The main characters are Blerds talking about being in the science technology club in high school. In one scene the main character Atticus Freeman, played by Jonathan Majors (Da 5 Bloods), picks up the book “The Outsider and Others” which was published in Arkham publishing house. This leads him to want to track down his father in Arkham, MA.
After this these three characters George Freeman, Atticus’s uncle, played by Courtney B Vance (Johnnie Cohran, American Crime Story), – who is creating a travel guide book – emoji eyes – and highschool friend Letitia, played by Jurnee Smollett (Black Canary, Bids of Prey), head across the deep south. This is where the program shows its true horror.
The Call of Cthulhu
The magic of Green, Abrams and Peele being at the helm, is the convergence of a mastery in conveyance of the black experience, storytelling and production value, with an expertise in the subversive narrative and haunting constitution. The one true element is the horror of real life subverting the horror narrative by amplifying the true nuance of racism. I was more terrified by a police car following our lead characters and relieved as the monsters appeared. This is the stamp of an expert blend of the past and present and the sci-fiction of it all. Introducing modern music, as Peele often does, adds layers that vibrate through your skin. This is just the pilot episode and it has been ringing in my mind for 48 hours.
After the pilot episode finished, a panel with the main cast began. Led by Blerdcon, the panel included actors Jonathan Majors (Atticus Freeman) Jurnee Smollett (Letitia Lewis) Courtney B Vance (George Freeman), Michael K Williams (Montrose Freeman) Wunmi Mosaku (Ruby Dandridge) Abbey Lee (Christina Braithwhite) and Aunjanue Ellis (Hippolyta Black).
First of all, Jonathan Majors is out here the most interesting man in the world. He doesn’t always read sci-fi but when he does he only reads dos equis… No for real though, he was spitting parables in this panel literally beginning like…“ watch this” and spun a web that connected his father’s character to the Count of Monte Cristo WITHOUT giving spoilers for the show. His flower print jacket was also on point.
It was refreshing to see Aunjanue Ellis (Sistah Girl, Undercover Brother) on the screen again. Ellis plays the mother and wife of the Freeman household opposite Courtney B Vance’s character, George. It is too early to tell how deep her involvement is, but we see her drawn toward travel and the stars. She is pictured in one scene looking through a telescope and commenting on almost seeing Cassiopeia. She speaks in the panel about the crux of her character in relation to the times, being a stay at home mom and wife, but having this desire to expand, go on the road and explore astronomy.
The panel talked about the time period and subject matter of the show as it rightfully should, but the most intriguing moment for me was between Michael K Williams and Abbey Lee (besides Jonathan Majors captivating qualities). Michael K Williams speaks emotionally on the dichotomy of masculinity, Racism, and being a black man in the context of the show set in Jim Crow times. The timber in his voice echoed from the screen and you felt it in your soul. The strength and fragility that exist so closely then and now.
Abbey Lee, whom we see for only a moment in the pilot episode, dropped bombs in that panel. As the only white woman in the virtual room, she was asked specifically about her work on the show. We know very little about her character from the first episode but her mysteriousness entices you. She took her time on the panel and sincerely, with transparency spoke on her transformation being involved in Lovecraft Country. She repeatedly said she had a lot of work to do. She expressed her being from Australia where race relations are different, but Australia having its own history with race. She explained the picture that is trotted out on what a racist is, she could for so long say “oh not that’s not me” living under a rock painted, “I am not a Racist,” for so long.
This show and the work she had to do was her awakening. She said “anti-racism is a muscle that needs to be flexed everyday, all the time.” I did not expect this to come out so pointed and so clearly. She didn’t know she had a mission but Lovecraft Country had made her path clear. Jordan Peele and Misha Green out here changing the world! Making people do the work. Yes!
I am out of this world on baited breath waiting for the premiere of Lovecraft Country. August 16th on HBO and HBO Max.